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Tag: bed

Is new Chevrolet ad pawlitically incorrect?

Remember the old Chevrolet commercial — baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?

Well, decades later, the car company has, for the sake of selling motor vehicles, gotten around to acknowledging another piece of Americana — the dog; specifically, the dog in the pickup truck; more specifically, the dog in a Chevrolet pickup.

And that, they will find out as the new ad airs, if they haven’t yet, is some tricky ground.

It’s one of those topics that raises the hackles of animal welfare activists, some of whom who say under no conditions should a dog be riding in the bed of a pickup , some of whom say it’s acceptable if the dog is crated or restrained, all of whom say riding in the cab would be preferable.

And they are right. For safety’s sake, it probably would be.

Last week, in “Travels with Ace,” the continuing saga of the trip Ace and I are taking across America, we showed you Jake, a golden retriever in Oregon still sporting injuries he received when he tumbled out the back of a moving pickup. We did so without casting judgments or getting preachy, because our road trip is not about how dogs should live in America, only about how they do live in America.

In much of rural America, dogs are still dogs. They roam their property, and perhaps that of other’s, at their will. They chase and sometimes kill wildlife. Some even live, gasp, outside. And they ride in the back of pickups, which virtually all animal welfare organizations will tell you is a bad idea.

The Chevy ad, to its credit, doesn’t show any dogs in the beds of moving pickups, but, even so, I’m predicting it will lead to some lively debate if it airs widely.

On YouTube, it has already started — through Internet comments, gracious and civil as  always.

“Cute video, but I wish Chevy wouldn’t advocate the dogs in the back unless in a crate. Since I have seen a dog fly out of the back of a truck on a busy highway, I am traumatized for life. It should be illegal and is some places for your dog to ride loose in the bed of your truck unless you are on your own dirt road on your property with no other cars around and are willing to pay the vet bill if your dog falls out…”

“If I thought for a second my dog would ever jump out, he wouldn’t ride back there. And he doesn’t on the interstate. But on going into town, on rural country roads, and on my ranch, he will always ride in the back and he wouldn’ t have it any other way. MIND YOUR OWN F***ING BUSINESS FAG…”

“Greatest commercial! Too bad liberal know it all’s have created laws against dogs riding in truck beds! Apparently (like most libs) they know what’s best for us, and will make laws accordingly. My dog will ride in the back forever though, they can suck his hairy nuts…”

Besides reflecting how crass anonymous internet banter can get — how Internet commenting has replaced the punching bag as man’s default mode of venting hostilities — the discourse shows the cultural divide that exists in this country, one that’s not so much conservative versus liberal as it is rural America versus the rest.

It’s a generalization, but many denizens of rural America don’t want the rest of America making rules that govern their access to firearms, or how they raise their dogs — from whether they spay and neuter to letting them ride in the back of pickups.

There’s something to be said for letting a dog being a dog — as opposed to spending life on a leash or in a handbag – but is putting Rover in the back of a pickup letting a dog be a dog? In my view, it’s courting disaster.

Yet, while many experts also advise that dogs in cars be crated or restrained, Ace is traveling acoss the country unrestrained in the back of my Jeep.

Maybe that’s why I don’t come down harder on dogs in pickups; maybe it’s a degree of respect for rural ways; or maybe it’s because the surest way to make people become more entrenched in a bad habit is to tell them they can’t do it anymore.

The pawlitics of bedtime

On my first night in Missoula, I fell asleep with one dog and woke up with a different one.

On the next night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with one.

On the third night, I fell asleep with two dogs and woke up with none. 

For the first time in our five months of traveling, in the latest of the long line of friends and family off whom we have freeloaded, Ace opted to sleep with someone other than me.

My feelings are hurt, but not too badly.

Back in Missoula, Ace has found a lively playmate, and I’ve been in full freeloading mode, enjoying all the comforts of somebody else’s home.

Gwen Florio, a reporter for the Missoulian, who I used to work with at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was kind enough to invite Ace and I to stay with her, her husband Scott, and their dog Nell – a four-month-old Brittany spaniel.

I’ve eaten most of their leftovers, drank most of their milk, eaten most of their eggs, watched their TV and had my own room in the basement, featuring one of the top two beds I’ve slept on (the other being in Santa Fe) during our journey.

Two more weeks on it, and I think my back would stop hurting.

But, as  much as I’ve enjoyed nesting at Gwen’s, it’s time to press on to Seattle.

On the first night, I retired early and Ace came to bed with me. When Nell jumped in – well to be honest, she jumped up, putting her front paws on the bed, and I pulled her up the rest of the way – Ace jumped off. I fell asleep snuggling with Nell, but when I woke up she was gone, and Ace was laying at my side.

On the second night, Gwen was working late on election night, and after watching a little bit of the “shellacking” on TV, I retired early. This time, Ace didn’t mind Nell joining us (if only Republicans and Democrats could learn to co-exist so quickly), and I fell asleep with the two of them – once Nell completed her process of nibbling my hands, squirming, walking over me, turning in circles, pawing at the bedspread, nibbling my hands some more, turning a few more circles and finally flopping down with a sigh. By morning, though (like many a Democrat), she was gone.

On the third night, I retired even earlier, and they both followed me to bed, and  both got in. But when I woke up they had both abandoned me. While I slept, Gwen had returned home and the dogs joined her for the night. Fortunately, her husband was out of town so there was room in her bed for them both.

Ace and Nell have gotten along great, and it has been interesting to watch their play progress — from timid and restrained to no-holds-barred wrestling. She’s Muhammad Ali to Ace’s Joe Frazier. In her back yard, a stone’s throw from the base of Mt. Jumbo, she runs circles around him, eggs him on, gives him a jab or a nip, then darts away. He keeps plodding forward, swinging with his paws, then watching as she bounces across the yard like a pinball.

Ace — despite my initial fears — hasn’t tried to use Nell’s dog door. It’s the perfect size for her, and she speeds in and out of the house at her will. It’s the perfect size for Ace to get stuck in. I had visions of having to take the door off its hinges and taking them both to a vet, or a hardware store, to have dog and door surgically separated.

Luckily, Ace hasn’t tried to use it, or even poke his nose through, probably because it — also like politicians – flaps and makes noise .

Nell, at four months, still engages in the kind of mischief pups perpetrate. At home during the day, while I wasn’t paying attention, she snagged a full roll of toilet paper, took it through her dog door and proceeded to decorate the lawn with confetti. She managed to get into my toothpaste, but apparently decided not to make a meal of it.

Ace, though he seemed unsure how to react to her puppiness at first, now wrestles with her in the way he does with his favorite dogs, nipping at her legs, trying to put her entire head in his mouth, going after her little nub of a tail — all with his trademark gentleness.

When he tires of it all he flops down in the yard, as he did yesterday morning. The grass was white with frost, and Ace relaxed with one of Nell’s toys that he’s grown especially fond of, probably because it has, or once had, peanut butter in it.

For 15 minutes, as Nell alternately looked on, ran circles around him, darted inside and out again, Ace laid there with the purple toy, and when he got up, there was a big green circle where the frost had melted away under his body heat.

To me, it seemed symbolic (then again, I hadn’t had my coffee yet) of what dogs do for us.

They melt away our frosty exteriors, they bring out the unjaded us that can be buried pretty deeply beneath the shells we hide behind, the image we project, all our bullshit and bluster.

They knock down the walls we put up.

Maybe our politicians could learn a thing or two from them, to the point of even becoming bedfellows — not in the dirty sense of the word, but in terms of working together to achieve a goal.

How cool would that be, if they could all settle down, bark less, share the toys, and — as dogs do — make the world a better place?

Made in Maryland: Kuranda Beds take off

kurandaHard times for Mike Harding led to dogs around the world resting comfortably.

Harding got laid off from his Wall Street firm in 1987, and it was that setback that led him to start his own company — Kuranda Dog Beds in Glen Burnie, The Capital in Annapolis reported yesterday.

Quickly becoming an industry standard, and a fixture at kennels and shelters, the chew resistant, elevated cots are sold out of small office near BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport — about 30,000 of them a year.

Harding says he never expected the dog bed to make a profit. Instead, he had higher hopes for another product — a roller that absorbs water from tennis courts and ball fields, called the Super Sopper. It never took off.

But Kurunda beds have since 1993 when Harding’s friend and investor, Paul Connolly, took the bed to a local kennel to gauge interest. The interest was there but the bed — the prototype was round — took up to much space.

That sent Harding back to the drawing board, where he came up with a new rectangular model.

“We immediately started making sales to boarding kennels, breeders, and hunters,” Harding said.

Since then, the bed has continued to evolve, and draw praise from kennels and shelters who need durable beds that stand up to high pressure washing.

All of the beds come out of the Glen Burnie building, where employees assemble the kits that are shipped to customers from Texas to Hong Kong.

In 2005, Connolly came up with the company’s “Donate a Bed” program, which allows anyone to use Kurunda’s website to buy a bed at wholesale and then donate it to a shelter. Forty of the donated beds recently went to Iraq for the dogs used by the military to sniff out explosives.

Company for Christmas: Three dog night

DSC07610

 
Perhaps you’ve heard people say this: Two dogs are just as easy as one. Or, three dogs are just as easy as two.

It’s not so.

Bearing in mind that it depends in large extent on the individual dogs, and having a routine carved out for them, the amount of time and energy spent on caring for multiple dogs doesn’t just double with two dogs, or triple with three dogs. When it comes to multiple dogs, basic math goes out the window.

Among my observations so far — based on my hosting three guest canines for Christmas, two of which have arrived so far to join me and my own dog Ace:

– Three dogs, who you would think would drink three times the amount of water as one, actually drink eight times the amount.

– Three dogs who normally wouldn’t follow you from room to room, all follow you from room to room when they are together.

– Three dogs, as all three have to do whatever one does — be it drinking water, peeing, barking or jumping on the human –  actually engage in 18 times the amount of activity that they would on their own.

DSC07612My newest arrival is a young Boston terrier named Darcy, who possesses an energy level equivalent to a whole  litter of Energizer bunnies. She’s constantly on the go. She likes to get up on the couch or a chair, so she’s at eye level with Ace, and then slap her paws into his face. Ace responds by taking Darcy’s paw, leg, or entire head into his mouth, at which point Darcy freezes until Ace lets go. Then they do it all over again. Cheyenne, the visiting blind dog, stayed out of those frays.

Darcy’s humans brought plenty of toys, which everyone is sharing nicely. Cheyenne went nuts over Darcy’s tug toy, whipping it around and flinging it, trying to find where it went, then doing it all over again.

Darcy meanwhile took a strong liking to Cheyenne’s bed — pulling it out of the crate,  attempting to impregnate it (though she’s a female), nursing on its bulges, and finally trying to pull the stuffing out of it, at which point I had to separate her from her lover/mother/prey.

Somebody pooped in the house (I’m not pointing any fingers), a feat which, fortunately, the others — so far — haven’t felt the need to duplicate.

All three took turns resting on the couch, engaging in play and gnawing on one well-chewed marrow bone.

As evening fell I learned that walking three dogs is 8.7 times harder than walking one, 23.5 times harder when you thrown in the ice, and it left me 10.6 times more tired than I should have been.

Back from the park, after dinner and a few more spurts of play, the gang finally started settling down, and we all sacked out on the couch — except for Ace, who knew he wouldn’t fit. He settled for putting his head only on the couch for a few minutes, then sprawled out at the foot of it.

You know that feeling you get when the day is done, and your work is finished, and you look over at your peacefully sleeping, or even just resting dog — that soul-comforting, all-is-right-with-the-world flush of warm contentment, better even than a crackling fire, hot chocolate, or a steaming bowl of macaroni and cheese?

Turns out multiple dogs make that feeling rise exponentially, too.

On my three dog night, with the blind one curled up between my legs, her head resting on my feet; the big one on floor by the couch, reaching for me now and then with his paw; and the little Boston terrier resting, finally, on my belly, I realized I was feeling 9.9 times more peaceful and harmonious than usual.

(To read all of the “Company for Christmas” series, click here.)

Another dog dragged — charges filed

A year-old pit bull is recovering after being dragged for nearly two miles behind a pick-up truck in Florida.

Holly, as the dog was named by the veterinarian treating her, had two toes surgically removed yesterday but “is doing really well,” Dr. Leonard Fox in Port St. Lucie said. “I really do believe that six weeks from now she’ll be running around like nothing happened,” he told TCPalm.com.

dogdraggedWhen she was brought in, the dog had severe road rash, particularly on her feet, which Fox said “look like ground beef.” She’d been dragged so long the big toes on her rear paws were worn down to the bone, necessitating the amputation.

Fox said the road rash will have to be treated like burns, with fresh bandages every few days. More surgery may be required Thursday or Friday to remove dead skin, and Holly may get a cast on her left hind foot as well.

The driver of the truck, Napoleon Zarah Davis, 31, of Port St. Lucie, was released from the St. Lucie County Jail Monday after paying $2,500 bond on a felony charge of animal cruelty.

The story is similar to one  recently reported in Tennessee.

Davis told police he was taking the dog to the Humane Society of St. Lucie County Monday when the dog jumped out of the truck bed. The dog was dragged 1.9 miles, before a man caught up to Davis and got him to stop the truck, according to police.

Davis  told police he didn’t know the dog, whose 15-foot leash was tied to a post in the truck bed, had jumped out.

(Photo: Port St. Lucie Police Department)

Snoopy edges Lassie in AOL poll

snoopySnoopy beat out Lassie, but just barely, in a recent poll conducted on behalf of the new AOL pet website, PawNation.com.

Both Lassie and Snoopy captured 39 percent of the votes for “favorite celebrity animal,” but Snoopy edged the beloved, but fading from memory collie by 14 votes. Garfield and Scooby Doo trailed with 12 and 11 percent, respectively.

The survey covered other important issues as well.

Asked “which celebrity pet’s passing did you mourn the most?” Oprah’s deceased dog Sophie came in at the top, followed by Mickey Rourke’s chihuahua, Loki.

In other results from the poll, the honors for ”craziest pet owner” went to Leona Helmsley, with Paris Hilton a distant second. And the celebrity picked as the one people would most trust to watch their pet was Jennifer Aniston, who captured a whopping 70 percent of the vote, beating out Mickey Rourke, Pam Anderson and Nicole Richie.

Almost half of the respondents said their pets sleep in their beds every night, and more than fourth said they did some sometimes.

(Graphic: from redkid’s ”Snoopy Says Generator”)

Cars chasing dogs: Fido in his Element

Honda showed off it’s most dog-friendly Element SUV yet at the New York International Auto Show yesterday.

The vehicle will feature a cushioned pet bed with safety restraints in the cargo area, a spill-resistant water bowl, a ventilation fan to keep canines comfortable and a folding ramp that gives animals an easy way to get in and out.

In the back seat, there’s an integrated pet carrier and machine-washable seat covers. The rubber floor mats feature a toy-bone pattern, and paw-print emblems on the side and back of the vehicle draw attention to its pet-friendly status.

Honda says it’s still finalizing the features, but the Dog Friendly Element will be available this fall, according to the Associated Press.

“In an interesting turn of events, cars are now chasing dogs,” said John Mendel, executive vice president of American Honda. “Factory integration of a cushioned pet bed, restraint systems and other components are intended to transform the Element into the ultimate dog car.”

“Pets have become more like family, more important to households than ever before,” said James Jenkins, a senior product planner for Honda. “We felt this was the perfect vehicle to offer such dog friendly features.”

The Element already is appealing to pet owners because of features such as its easy-to-clean flooring in the cargo area and its wide side cargo doors.

The consumer pet travel advice website, Dogcars.com, honored the 2007 Honda Element with its first-ever “Dog Car of the Year” award.

To do this, repeating what we mean when we talk about their existence.